Bouquets and brickbats — four women in the news


Bouquets and brickbats — four women in the news

Thursday, February 18, 2021

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Four women made the news pages this week; three of them eminently worthy of any bouquets we can send their way, with the fourth being a huge disappointment and so receives our rarely dispensed brickbats.

We brought Nigerian economist Ms Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to readers' attention in this space on February 7 because we were excited about the prospect of her being appointed the first woman and first African to head the 164-member World Trade Organization (WTO), which regulates rules of trade among nations.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala will officially assume the position as director general on March 1, taking on the role amid rising protectionism and disagreement over how the body decides cases involving billions of dollars in sales and thousands of jobs.

The appointment came after US President Joe Biden endorsed her candidacy, which had been blocked by President Donald Trump, while the US used controversial tariffs or import taxes in disputes with China and the European Union.

“I absolutely do feel an additional burden, I can't lie about that. Being the first woman and the first African means that one really has to perform,” she said after the announcement of her appointment.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister and foreign minister, was number two at the World Bank after a 25-year career in which advocated for economic growth and development in poorer countries. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard University and a PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Last year, the US defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to promote two of their top generals — both women — to the elite, four-star commands. Worried that Mr Trump might not approve of women, they held back the promotion until after the presidential election, according to the respected New York Times.

The women are General Van Ovost, already a four-star officer leading the Air Force's Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. A seasoned commander and Air Force Academy graduate, she will head up the multi-service Transportation Command.

General Laura J Richardson is a three-star commander of the Army component of the Pentagon's Northern Command, based in San Antonio, which is playing an important role in providing military assistance to the Administration's COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Ms Kalina Collier, a JetBlue Airways flight attendant, earns brickbat after severely hurting up Jamaican nerves when she alleged that she had been kidnapped by a local hotel. As it turned out, she was merely trying to avoid quarantine after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Representatives from the police, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the Jamaica Tourist Board ascertained that Ms Collier claims were “false, baseless, and mischievous”. However, as the allegations made the rounds on social media and US news networks her sympathisers abroad called for a boycott of Jamaica.

For the damage done to Jamaica's already COVID-19-battered tourism industry Ms Collier could well have earned persona non grata status. However, she has lost her job at JetBlue and that might be punishment enough.

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